When I hear about parlor guitars, I picture someone sitting by the fireplace in their 19th-century mansion, strumming chords while wearing a smoking jacket.
Maybe that’s just me.
A parlor- (also spelled parlour-) style guitar is easy to spot because of its smaller body. This gives the guitar a unique, punchy midrange tone and makes it easier to play and transport. Early American blues and folks artists preferred them for these reasons — plus they often were more affordable than dreadnoughts.
Norman released its own version, the Parlour SG, as part of its Expedition series. The top, back and sides are made of a three-way lamination of wild cherry. The bridge and fretboard are rosewood. The nut and saddle are TUSQ by Graphtech. Additional options include a TRIC case and a Fishman Isys + electronics system with built-in EQ and tuner.
The scale of the guitar measures to just under 25 inches, so even with a smaller body, the neck and fret spacing feels common. The built-in tuner on the Fishman pickup makes tuning a cinch.
The Norman comes well setup with Cleartone strings. The finish feels great. It falls somewhere between glossy and satin, similar to an already-broken-in guitar. The sound hole is decorated with a burned-in rosette that lets you know the guitar is handmade in Quebec, Canada.
Instantly this guitar could become “the couch guitar." The unplugged volume is a little quieter than your average acoustic. The TRIC case, which stands for Thermally Regulated Instrument Case, is a durable hybrid of a hard case and a gig bag. If you need to leave the couch, this guitar and case would make great traveling companions for work or camping.
For the sound clips below, I played the same chord progression three times. First, the unplugged guitar is mic’d up. Second, the guitar’s pickup is plugged in direct. Finally, I blended together the pickup with the mic.
Street Price: Norman Expedition Parlour SG Isys+ (with case and electronics), $349
You can't believe everything you read on the Internet, but Billy Voight is a gear reviewer, bassist and guitarist from Pennsylvania. He has Hartke bass amps and Walden acoustic guitars to thank for supplying some of the finest gear on his musical journey. Need Billy's help in creating noise for your next project? Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.